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Number of Tohoku volunteers exceeds 1.3 million

20 Comments

The estimated number of volunteers who have supported reconstruction work in the tsunami-hit Tohoku region was at least 1.33 million, according to the Japan National Council of Social Welfare.

According to the council, the number of volunteers who applied through local disaster volunteer centers peaked two months after the earthquake in 2011. At that time, around 182,000 volunteers were active in the region. Last year, two years after the disaster, the average number of volunteers per month was almost 10,000.

NHK reported that the number of volunteers is estimated to be much higher than 1.33 million, if the number of individual volunteers and those who supported the victims outside the stricken areas are taken into account.

Local disaster relief officials say there is still a need for volunteers to help elderly people with their shopping, help at ward offices and so on. Officials are encouraging students to consider spending part of their spring-summer vacation helping people in Tohoku.

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20 Comments
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Its good that people care enough to give up their time to help those in need.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Send the JSDF.... They can help with construction too.....

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Yeah, it is good that so many people are prepared to volunteer to help out. However, it is also pretty sad that, in a so-called 'modern' country the people of the devastated coast have to rely on volunteers cos they are getting bugger all from their government. I also agree the JSDF should be up there full-time to get the reconstruction moving. The majority of the tsunami refuges are I their 60's or older. I fear most of them will be dead before they get a chance to return home.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

The JSDF did an awesome job in the days, weeks and months after the disaster.

It's an awesome number and doesn't include the people that delivered aid etc as well

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@Disillusioned

Yeah, it is good that so many people are prepared to volunteer to help out. However, it is also pretty sad that, in a so-called 'modern' country the people of the devastated coast have to rely on volunteers cos they are getting bugger all from their government.

Every country, even the rich ones need the help of volunteers after a major disaster. I remember my mother in Florida in Hurricane Andrew in 1992? or Hurricane Katerina which hit New Orleans. Sometimes, NGO groups and volunteer groups can move quicker than gov't's.

I also agree the JSDF should be up there full-time to get the reconstruction moving.

The JSDF are always used in the rescue period of any disaster but their role isn't one of construction and building. Their role is to defend the country. You are missing an understanding of the bigger picture.

First there were more than 25 million tons of debris which had to be collected the disaster prefectures requested help from all the other prefectures but many refused over radiation fears. That debris is mostly collected but still being disposed of which will take until at least the end of next year, 2015.

What happens with the reconstruction begins with planning from all the various local gov't's and not all have been able to present detailed plans foe various reasons including the lack of staff from the area because many of them lost their lives.

It not about reconstruction which would mean rebuilding communities which in many areas in now out of question because the original ones are too near to the coast, or a village with very old people. There's a lack of suitable land in the mountains where new communities could be built. If private ownership does not want to sell the land then local gov't's can do little about it.

Mountains could be removed, like what happened here in Kobe, but that in itself will take more than 10 years. The disaster destroyed everything, all the roads, drains, sewers, infrastructure. The destruction is massive over an enormous area. All schools, hospitals and other important public buildings all need to be built and staffed.

The central gov't have allotted ¥25 trillion for the reconstruction so the delay isn't because of lack of money. There are not enough builders, civil engineers to supply all the required labor especially when the country is also dealing with the nuclear disaster.

The majority of the tsunami refuges are I their 60's or older. I fear most of them will be dead before they get a chance to return home.

I don't know were you got that from but you are grossly mistaken because the ages of the survivors are from very young to very old. Yes, some of the older people won't be returning to their former homes and communities.

You post too many negative comments, how about the occasional positive one?

The reconstruction of Kobe took 15 years, Tohoku will take more than 30 years.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The JSDF are still needed in Tohoku for real and not just to monitor the radiation levels for MEXT

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The spirit of volunteerism is admirable. Hats off to everyone who helped the victims!

That number is impressive but that's 延べ人数, right? (延べ人数 means if a person went up to Tohoku 4 times, that would be counted as 4 people.) In English, we tend to count each individual only once.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Much thanks to every one (whether they have been counted multiple times or not) of the volunteers who have come to help Tohoku. It is much appreciated and certainly won't be forgotten.

Also thanks to Zichi for having the time and energy to write a lit if what I was thinking in response to Disillusioned.

Just a couple of words to add regarding rebuilding. In many areas the flatter areas near the water have subsided, meaning they cannot be rebuilt on as is, even aside from concerns about protection from future tsunami. On the other hand rebuilding on high land (and that is given any is even available) is not necessarily a good solution for people engaged in fishing and such.

Much of the farmland still has a too high salt content to successfully raise marketable crops but there is no alternative farmland available nearby.

Many places have not started major rebuilding because the various interested parties have yet to reach a consensus about where and how.

I could go on and on but will stop here with, as I and others have mentioned before, every inhabited area along that coast has a different, specific combination of factors affecting the progress being made. Some places have come a long ways while others have not. It's a very complex situation. The government could have done a better job in many ways and the situation in Fukushima should never have been allowed to happen. But it just isn't the simplistic matter that many commenters would have it. I hope the ranters at least are putting an equal amount of energy into helping Tohoku recover.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Educator

Just a couple of words to add regarding rebuilding. In many areas the flatter areas near the water have subsided,

Many coastal areas sunk 1.0-1.5 meters which left them at sea level and even below sea level. This means those areas flood just with high tides and whatever happens there will require some kind of defences like dykes and seawalls. In some places in Miyagi, because of the seawater contaminated soil, some have turned to new methods using non soil growing methods under cover and are having success with it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

But it just isn't the simplistic matter that many commenters would have it. I hope the ranters at least are putting an equal amount of energy into helping Tohoku recover.

Amen to that!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"some have turned to new methods using non soil growing methods under cover and are having success with it."

Yes, that is working very well for strawberry growers and such. People who want to return to rice growing, etc are having a much harder time of it. I know of some who have made a switch to strawberries if tomatoes, but it also requires an investment for the greenhouses and learning new techniques. Some are up for it and some are not.

Thanks Beaner :-)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That's a lot of people, a lot of work done, and a lot of labor costs saved. Much appreciated but ........... why doesn't the media report more of the results? I seem to only hear what's not done yet. 1.3 million people I'm sure can do a lot.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

people with skills in construction are needed in Tohoku. Not empty Handed volunteers to help elderly people with their shopping. There are enough Youngsters in Tohoku for that already. A.D.D on JT....

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

NPOs on the ground in Tohoku received $3 billion in donations from companies and the public, in response to the estimated $300 billion in damages.

http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/npos-on-the-ground-in-tohoku-6-months-after-march-11

The Japanese Red Cross has received over $600 million from sister societies around the world. By the end of December 2013, more than 74.7% of these funds had been spent or committed on specific recovery programs that benefit survivors of the disaster.

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/amid-complex-problems-red-cross-stands-by-tsunami-survivors#comment_1745497

Volunteer with NPOs....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not empty Handed volunteers to help elderly people with their shopping. There are enough Youngsters in Tohoku for that already. A.D.D on JT....

Stunned. Is that what you think people have been doing? Going along, having a nice cup of tea and a bit of a jaunt?

No. They've been working bloody hard, back breaking in extreme conditions. They've been cleaning out houses, digging ditches doing any number of manual work. On their weekends. In their own time. They are simply awesome people.

I wonder what you've done?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Be Real Heda even You were with a NPO.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

In the beginning Empty Handed Volunteers were turned away because they did not even have supplies to feed themselves. less no a place to sleep. It's better to go through an NPO.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was involved with an NPO but also did a lot on my own/through friends.

But I don't really understand your initial post... a heck of a lot of people have done awesome things. In their own time. Off their own back. Even if they were with an NPO who was organising everything. NPOs don't work without volunteers.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I first went up with an international NPO. Worked a lot with that group. Met lots of people. I have orked with / through at least 7 NPOs all together, some locally started, after the tsunami. And sometimes I work without an NPO, through friends.

Two NPOs I've worked with have small vans they use to take old people shopping. It was important when the new bus routes didn't have shelters yet. And it's also important when people are moving out of the temporary units into new housing - they need to buy more things than they can carry on the bus.

There are lots of things that people can do. If it's your first time, an NPO is the easy way to go. But if you're not sure if the work they do is important, don't worry, just go. You can rent a car. Book a hotel nearby. See the sites for yourself. IF you get involved in volunteering, you'll get more opportunity to speak to people who want to speak. And you'll get a deeper understanding of what's happened and what's happening.

At the very least, go. See. Hear.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

NPO's Know the lay of the land and know where Your talents can be most useful in reference to volunteering.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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